In 2021, more than 47 million people voluntarily quit their jobs. This so-called Great Resignation shifted the work landscape in a variety of ways–especially towards entrepreneurship.

Many of the people who left other work weren’t content to just sit on the couch. Instead, they were ready to create a business of their own. Pandemic relief funds provided critical seed money for people to invest in a new business. As a result, new business applications have soared over the past year. What has worked? Some of the most profitable businesses are ones you might not have considered, like auto repair shops.

For savvy, potential entrepreneurs, one element to consider when starting a business is the average overhead rates by industry. In other words, what are business types that have high profit margins or those with a robust return on investment when you are talking about building a business from scratch? What is a good profit margin for a small business? It really depends on the type and size of your business, but anywhere from 7 to 10 percent is considered a solid return.


Some of the best small businesses to start this year

Read on to find out the 15 most profitable businesses to start this year and how thinking about every element of the business – including something as specific as a point-of-sale system – can make a difference.





1. Cleaning services

With no physical location needed and low equipment costs, opening a cleaning business can be quite profitable. Considering the low barrier to entry and the value of word-of-mouth marketing, cleaning businesses are among the most profitable business ideas. Entrepreneurs can decide whether they want to focus on residential or commercial cleaning, factoring in that the commercial cleaning market is predicted to grow 6% annually by 2026.


2. Dog walker

The pandemic pet rush was very real. And now that many people have returned to their daily responsibilities, making sure Fido remains happy and healthy has shifted to enterprising people who have opened dog care businesses. With no major start-up costs, this is a get-started-and-go field that can turn a profit quickly.

The average hourly rate for a self-employed dog walker is $16 per hour, but market yourself as a high-end dog-walker and you could be making upwards of six figures a year. It just takes a few clients to build a solid business–it’s the perfect profitable business for a pet lover.


3. Mobile car wash

There’s something about a clean car that just feels good. And helping people keep their rides shining can be a profitable business. According to the International Carwash Association, the car wash market was estimated at $15.21 billion in 2022  and is expected to grow 5.7% between 2023 and 2030. Opening a physical car wash means huge outlays in overhead, but a mobile car wash shifts the ROI in your favor.

Customers may be more likely to pay more for a service that comes to them. Plus, there’s no concern about the expenses required with a physical location and upkeep of complicated mechanical parts.



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4. Tutoring

If you’ve got expert-level knowledge in a particular field of study, becoming a private tutor can be a smart move. Globally, the already booming online tutoring market is expecting massive growth until 2030. That’s largely because there are very few limitations on when and where you can teach lessons. Video chats have made it simple to conduct sessions with potential students around the world, or you can focus on in-person classes in your hometown.

Rates can range from $25 to $80 per hour, depending on your experience. Some tutors even factor in travel costs if taking in-home appointments.


5. Fitness and personal training

People are always in search of fitness hacks. Given the sedentary nature of today’s work-from-home setups, many people are looking for someone to help them get into shape. This is where an entrepreneur can step in. Personal training doesn’t require high overhead to get started–all you need is knowledge, desire, and a few pieces of equipment. Some states may require certification, but the cost for that is typically low.

The fitness training industry is expected to grow by 14 percent over the next decade, which makes it a great time to hang a personal training shingle. Having a Clover Flex or Go can help you process payments on the spot.


6. Social media expert and influencer

If you’re the type that’s always online with a keen eye for what’s trending on social media, a digital strategy business is a great way to create profit with just a laptop. Today’s businesses are leaning on social media influencers to communicate with customers. A social media-savvy entrepreneur can take the reins of a company’s accounts and optimize visibility and engagement.

When you consider that the average influencer can make as much $100,000 just on product placements alone, it’s easy to understand why this is one of the most profitable business ideas on this list.


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7. Digital marketing – copywriting, graphic design, web development, and coding

These are really four jobs rolled into one category. What they all have in common is that you can work remotely– providing specialized services to clients whether they’re in the same city as you or across the country.

While a Bachelor’s degree can certainly bolster the confidence of your clients, it ultimately comes down to hands-on experience, knowledge, and talent. Showcasing your writing and design projects in a digital portfolio is a good way to demonstrate this.

Picking a niche industry and working with clientele in a specific geographical location can have an impact on your earnings. For example, a programmer who specializes in renewable energy can often charge higher than a generalist who works with all types of clients. And a copywriter in San Francisco can make considerably more money than a copywriter in Orlando.


8. Food trucks and food stands

The food truck craze is here to stay. It’s now over a $1 billion industry. And while the overhead costs may be higher than some of the other businesses listed here–around $50,000–the revenues can be four times that amount if you’re successful. It can take some effort to stand out from the crowd–a unique menu and a location not swamped by other trucks. But there’s no denying that a good food truck can turn a nice profit.

Entrepreneurs can use Customer Engagement tools to share the truck’s location, use email to run promotions, announce new menu items, and publicize special events and innovations.


9. Accounting and bookkeeping

If numbers are your thing, a bookkeeping business is a low-overhead way to help individuals and businesses stay organized. All you’ll need is some software, a computer, and printing capability. Bookkeeping businesses are on the decline, so this is an industry where an enterprising entrepreneur can make inroads.

Be aware of the differences between bookkeeping and accounting. Some clients may want a certified public accountant (CPA) while others want someone to help them with day-to-day tasks. Whatever your niche, accounting and bookkeeping are among the most profitable small businesses to start right now.





10. Kids’ activities

Live in an area filled with young children? Starting a business that provides enrichment activities for kids could be a big winner. In many areas, afterschool, art, music and summer programs have been reduced due to budget cuts, opening the door for talented entrepreneurs to fill the gaps.

You could launch a gymnastics center or a music school, become a swimming instructor or kids’ yoga teacher, or focus on some other child-centered activity. Hosting activities in a local park can cut down on overhead costs, or you may be able to rent a room at the local community center to save money.


11. Landscaping

When executed well, landscaping can be incredibly lucrative for entrepreneurs, with the U.S. Department of Labor reporting that the top 10% of managers and supervisors earn nearly $80,000 annually. However, this largely depends on geography and clientele.

Although there are many ways for customers to pay for landscaping services, having a mobile credit card reader allows you to more securely process payments in the field whenever you or your crews are out on a job.


12. IT services

This field is becoming harder to define as the world becomes more digital. Nevertheless, the Internet of Things continues to create unprecedented demand for those with the skills and training to troubleshoot technical issues.

At the upper end of this growing profession are computer and information research scientists who earn over $130,000 a year on average. This field normally requires a Bachelor’s degree, but – as many Silicon Valley entrepreneurs can tell you – there are zero educational requirements for launching an IT startup in your garage. And with the explosion of generative AI products, along with the rapid expansion of cloud and remote services, your skills are sure to be in demand.



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13. Electronics repair

Looking for a “green” job that pays well and allows you to tinker with gadgets? Electronics repair fits all three of these criteria. By repairing broken electronics, you’re helping reduce the amount of electronic waste that we throw away – including all the plastics and precious metals that go into everyday consumer appliances.

On top of that, the electronics repair market is growing rapidly. Professionals in the field earn a median salary of $64,000, with some in the utility sector earning closer to $94,000. Urban locations draw higher salaries, so stake out a prime location to help increase your profits.


14. Auto repair

There was a time when the average motorist could pop open the hood to diagnose and fix basic car trouble. However, as automobiles become more sophisticated and electrical, having training in auto repair is becoming increasingly necessary. This is why professionals in the top 10% of this field earn more than $75,000 a year on average.

The startup costs can be significant and, again, training is often required. However, as long as Americans keep driving, there will be plenty of demand for skilled and knowledgeable auto repair professionals.


15. Vacation rentals

Getting into vacation rentals can be relatively easy – especially if you rent your home to test the waters. If managing that first property works out, you may be ready to expand.

However, it’s important to know that geography may determine your success for two key reasons. First, some destinations are more conducive to year-round business than others, with warmer regions of the country seeing the most traffic. Second, different jurisdictions have rules regarding professional vs. amateur property rental management. If your city prohibits sites such as Airbnb, for example, you might need a real estate license to legally operate.



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